Thursday, August 19, 2010

"Most of Canada would die, too"

One citizen who read the article commented, "This is without a doubt the scariest thing I have ever read."   Another astute reader commented, "It's not a matter of 'if' an EMP attack is launched at the U.S. - it's a question of 'when?'" 

They were commenting on "End of the world...for real" by James Jay Carafano of the Heritage Foundation. The article was recently published in the Washington Examiner:
A high-altitude nuclear explosion can create an electromagnetic pulse that mimics a solar tsunami, a fact validated in 2004 by the Commission to Assess the Threat to the United States from electromagnetic pulse attack (EMP).

A massive EMP attack on the United States could produce almost unimaginable devastation by wiping out essential infrastructure. Communications would collapse, transportation would halt, and electrical power would disappear. Not even a global humanitarian effort would be enough to keep hundreds of millions of Americans from dying of starvation or exposure.

Nor would the catastrophe stop at our borders. Most of Canada would die, too. Its infrastructure is integrated with the U.S. power grid. Without the American economic engine, the world economy would quickly collapse. Much of the world's intellectual property (half of it is in the United States) would be lost as well. The Earth would likely recede into the "new" Dark Ages.

There's nothing we can do to prevent a solar tsunami, but thwarting a nuclear missile attack is well within our capabilities. "Countering the EMP Threat: The Role of Missile Defense," (PdF) a recent report from the Independent Working Group (IWG), offers some practical and readily achievable recommendations...
With the thawing of the Cold War era, many of us thought the threat of EMP had receded.  But the IWG authors point to a new danger: the possibility that a terrorist will try to use EMP against America:
Several years ago, Iran tested a short-range ballistic missile in a way that indicated an interest in developing an EMP capability— so this threat is not hypothetical. It also must be remembered that terrorists might purchase such missiles—even possibly armed with nuclear weapons.
What can America do?   We must fund the development of a robust missile defense system.  In these times of budget cutbacks, this will require political resolve.  A March 30 Time Magazine article explores how some far sighted Americans are working to build the political will to fund the development of the EMP defenses we need:
"Despite repeated warnings, Congress has taken virtually no action to prepare or protect against an EMP attack," write the Heritage Foundation's Jena Baker McNeill and James Jay Carafano. "In order to facilitate a national discussion regarding the EMP threat, Congress should establish March 23 as EMP Recognition Day" — not coincidentally, that's the date of Reagan's famous 1983 speech launching his missile-defense initiative.
As its own contribution to EMP Recognition Day, the Heritage Foundation... is urging lawmakers to shut down congressional cafeterias, walk to work, shut off their BlackBerries and turn off the lights. "If Congress took these four steps for one day," the Heritage Foundation says, "all members would understand the magnitude of the dangers posed by an EMP attack."
DoF strongly supports this worthwhile initiative.   

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Dr. Rebecca Wolf
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United States Department of Fear